Complete Grief


Let’s start with the tragic denouement: the sudden death of David, my high school best friend, on April 18, 2011.  I found out the following evening via Facebook, and proceeded to sob and rage over the next four days.  This coincided with my planned extrication from the farm house I had shared with my ex to a city apartment I would share with a stranger.  On my final day of box-heaving and car-packing, I was exhausted and numb with mourning.  Running in to make a final sweep for odds and ends, I almost stepped on a copperhead snake with a toad lodged sideways in its mouth.  I sucked in a shallow breath and felt my whole body go cold.  The ambient noise of birds and insects in the forest at the yard’s edge was gone.  The snake, toad, and I were suspended in time, and I knew my role: to patiently bear witness.

I squatted on the driveway, hugging my knees around the deep rasp of my breath.  I remembered squealing like a toddler when I found the toad under the boot brush a few weeks prior.  It had reminded me of the only gift I still have from David: a pair of hand-sculpted toads nestled in a shop rag in a box in my parents’ attic.  At first, the slow motion sound of the snake’s teeth releasing and re-puncturing the toad’s leathery skin was sickening; but soon it became…comforting.  I realized I was meditating.  And softly crying.  Mother Nature had engaged me with this simple example of energy transformation to help me find perspective within the complexities of my human grief.  My feet started to go numb and my hips ached.  With toad legs protruding from her open mouth and a bulge in her throat, the snake looked just as uncomfortable.

I don’t know how long I watched that poor toad being devoured, but I knew when our moment had passed.  The copperhead had snuggled herself against the cinder blocks of the house in digestion, her tail end resting up the mailbox post.  She flicked her tongue, and mostly ignored me as I slowly stood up, and let sensation re-enter my feet.  I stepped over the small spots of blood on the concrete and ascended the stairs.  In my sad and tired mind, the death of the toad formed a sacred triangle with the end of my relationship and the death of my friend.  My grief was now complete.  When I came back down the stairs to my car, the snake had gone; and with her, some of the heaviness in my heart.


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I’ve told and retold, pared down and beefed up, the story of how wee baby Alex came into this world.  His invitation for me to become his earthly mother was impeccably timed.  My heart had burrowed itself deep into the dirt of grief, and Alex wrote his invitation for me to become his earthly mother in the dust thrown up around it.

As Rumi reminds us,

Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises. 

So here I am, truly madly deeply (as they say) in love with an infant son conceived amidst grieving.  It could be the sleep-deprivation talking, but I’m feeling pretty confident and graceful in my new roles (i.e. disguises) of mother, co-parent, partner, and house-elf.  So, have I disappeared into emptiness?  I’m working on it…

Unfolding in Real Time


Two years ago yesterday, I was fired from my last office job.  At the time, if felt like the ultimate freedom, like a push out of the nest by a momma-bird universe that wanted to see me fly into right livelihood.  Today I celebrate this anniversary with a new understanding of freedom.

In Eastern Body, Western MindAnodea Judith says that “we must accept limitation in order to transcend it.”  I most certainly didn’t accept the limitation of having to be at a desk at the same time every morning, wilting under fluorescent lights, pushing papers around until the clock told me I could escape.  And so, of course, I didn’t transcend it.  I didn’t appreciate the amazing amount of freedom that I had in the puffy paycheck I received and the vacation time I accrued.

If I had just opened my eyes to the fact that all of my mind-body training during my four-year stint as a legal secretary wouldn’t have been possible without working within the boundaries implied by that position.  If I had just accepted that their rules were easy to follow, and that I was smart enough to find ways to challenge myself and perform at a higher standard than I did.  Ah, but that’s not what happened, and eventually the world tired of my self-righteous behavior and my rejection of the necessity of limitation.

So, I was fired.  And I was then so very free to pursue yoga teaching and therapy full-time, but…(and here’s the kicker)…what do you think happened then?  I hadn’t practiced acceptance of limitation to the point where even growing work that I loved seemed stifling.  My current self frustratingly reaches into the past to shake the me of two years ago.  “Yes, you must do the work: make those phone calls, give free sessions, follow up with past clients, continue to update your website, create marketing materials…”

As I’ve learned over the past few years of self-employment, and have been recently reminded by Anodea Judith, “In order to manifest, we must be able to accept limitation.  We have to be able to focus on what we want, to be specific about it.  We have to be able to stick with it long enough for manifestation to occur.”

Seems simple enough, yeah?  And yet sometimes it takes a while for boundaries to feel like they’re holding space for what we want to manifest, instead of holding us back.

Now I no longer reach back into the past, into the should haves.  I feel gratitude now for all the nests I have been, am, and will be cradled in; and in real time I’m nudging myself out, starting to settle into acceptance of the boundary of the sky.

Non Sequitur Sequencing

I’m feeling festive on this “eighth-month” eve, and am tickled by how I feel in the echo of yoga class this evening. I really loved teaching a class of two. These are earnest, strong women who know how to affect change in their lives. I’m inspired, every week. And sometimes I find myself in front of them, with no plan in hand, wondering what our 75 minutes together will bring. What will float in on the winds…? Extension in the hip flexors and balance in the pelvis. Welcome! Passive shoulder and heart openers. Mmm… Lifting the pelvic bone to root the feet into Mother Earth! Oh, don’t mind if I do.

I just read a few wonderful little quotes:crescent-lunge

To accept the responsibility of being a child of God is to accept the best that life has to offer you.
– Stella Terrill Mann

Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process.
– Julia Cameron

I’m left pondering my role in guiding my two students through enthusiasm for and to yoga. I understand that it’s not just a practice to illuminate the truth of our realities. It’s also a lifestyle that co-creates the realities that our hearts truly desire. My role, then, becomes one of channelling, not teaching anything but reminding all of us that we are love. I’m just the messenger, from universal consciousness. In another situation, someone else has and will remind me with the same timeless message.

CrowAnd what of festivity? Maybe I’m still celebrating the Equinox, or at least harvest time, but I’m inclined to pull cards. I’ll share them without interpretation. Welcome, month of jack o’ lanterns and hoodies.

6 of Pentacles

Glue and Gork

For whatever reason, I deemed our watching of Once Upon A Time “gorking out”, and decided to multi task and continue hot gluing acorns to the autumn wreath I’m making. So, for the glue and gork*, I’ll be seriously contemplating the season opener of my addiction. With threads of dried hot glue creating a web across my desk. Really what I’ll be considering is the fanciful coincidence that my three and half year old housemate sings “Let It Go”. All. The. Time. The two and a half year old says, “For the first time in forever!” like it’s a battle cry. I suppose for him, it is…


So, Elsa and Anna are showing up on my stories, and I feel the itch of guilty Storybrooke pleasure. My DVR awaits! I hope there’s someone I know who will commiserate with me tomorrow regarding the development of Captain Swan. If you don’t know what I mean, you won’t know what I mean. Ah, first world entertainment. It pulls us from being present into being somewhere else, out of our bodies, acknowledging that multiple universes exist simultaneously and we can connect to all of them. All of them. Seriously, without even using magic portals or anything! Reality is amazing, isn’t it? No wonder I like faery tales so much…

SnowWhiteSleeping* I just looked it up: gorked out, like Snow White!

Uddiyana Equinox

autumn-equinox My birthday notwithstanding, today is my favorite day of the year. There is harmony and balance between light and dark, and I feel the promise of change on the cooler breezes. All over the world, the Autumnal Equinox is celebrated in a variety of ways. My inclination is to honor Mabon, the pagan celebration of the second harvest and beginning of winter preparations. I went apple-picking yesterday, and even though I don’t can or jar (yet), we’ll be making apple crisps and sauce and decorating the pumpkins and gourds we also picked up.

You could also choose to join the Greeks in remembering that Persephone is returning to the underworld to be with her husband Hades. Or the Chinese in their mid-Autumn festival, gorging on moon cakes – yum! During Higan, the Japanese believe that their relatives reach nirvana. As a light worker, I like that idea, of thinned veils that allow movement from our world to the spirits’ (and back).

yinyangI said to a client the other day that the light and dark in each of us need to integrate, not spoon like the yin yang. What I had in mind was more of a merging that also retains the essence of each. Like yin and yang, the day and the night of this special time of year dance together, clearly in sync as in a mirror.  We need to consciously choose to do the same inside of ourselves, creating patterns of allowing out to play the lightest and darkest parts, each in turn and simultaneously.  It’s essential.

I hope to help ease this transition into darkness, which most of us tend to avoid or blind with forced light. My current yoga practice and teachings are now including Uddiyana Bandha as a way to strengthen our most fearless parts of ourselves, to be able to walk into the darkness without fear. Shadow work. Soul retrieval. These are the tools of modern man who no longer lives a rural life but aches for it in his bones. We can honor our shadow sides by sitting down for tea with our demons, and loving all we find in the murky depths. This honors the land that is cultivated and harvested so you can have cornbread and squash, or apple cider. When we dig deeply into ourselves, we honor the womb of mother earth that holds the divine spark of creation. It’s as simple as that.

Sit in meditation. Listen to the monkeys chatter in your mind. Don’t judge them, or the thoughts, or yourself. Just observe from the most neutral and curious place you can find, and with practice, you will be able to focus clearer than before. Like night vision.

DiaDeLosMuertosHonor your ancestors, and your grief at their passing. The veils between the worlds of the living and spirits are thinnest on All Hallow’s Eve. More about that later.

The Fall is a time to let go of what you need no longer, to sweep it all away with the chilly winds. This creates space for what your heart deeply desires. And can be expressed during the light holidays at year’s end.

For now, let go and let goddess. Make plans that will hibernate with you during the winter (which I hear is going to be “harsh” this year in the DMV). Practice restorative yoga and meditate for clarity around your spring projects.

Time is cyclical, and quantum physics tells us that past, present and future happen at the same time. Ritualizing transition in homage to mother nature is nurturing to all of us.